Flat as a pancake, cows, and corn. I don’t usually boast about living in Illinois, but today I am proud. Despite his follies, our Governor, Rod Blagojevich, improved a bill that will hugely impact young adults in their twenties and thirties and should serve as an example to other states that are looking for band-aid fixes to our failed health insurance system.
Before dousing you with legislative lingo, I want to tell a story about Dana Merk, an AML patient, who I write about in my book. Dana was given the boot from her college’s health insurance when she took a leave of absence from school. Did Dana take a semester off for soul searching in Europe? Nope. Dana left school to receive inpatient chemotherapy of her leukemia. Yes, you heard me right. Her insurance company took away her insurance because she left school for cancer treatment. How is she still alive? Her friends and family threw bowling fundraisers.
So yes, it is a big deal and affects real people’s lives when states propose legislation such as Illinois House Bill 5285. It allows college students to stay on their parents’ heath insurance for a year, or until the plan would have ended, if they take a medical leave of absence or reduce to part-time because of an illness or injury. Brilliant.
BUT WAIT IT GETS EVEN BETTER: Yesterday, the Governor made an addition to the bill that would allow the option for parents to keep their kids on their health insurance until they are 26 years old, or 30 years old if their kid is a veteran.
This will make a huge impact on young adult cancer survival rates. Why? Peds and geezers have seen a steady improvement in their cancer survival rates over the last 30 years but twenty and thirty somethings have not. We are the largest group of uninsured adults in the U.S. Because of our lack of health insurance, we are diagnosed at later more advanced stages.
Want to save some lives? For the time being, forget racing for the cure; instead advocate for a bill! If you live in Illinois contact Campaign for Better Health Care to learn about how to take effective action to get this bill passed. And if you live in the Diaspora, get off your butt and find out what you can do in your state to promote legislation that will save young adult lives.